THE TRIANGLE TERROR
By Carol Foss
It was an ordinary day and the seagulls flapped above an ordinary
sea in an ordinary sky. That is, ordinary for the non-observant. Admiral
Nelson was still concerned. For the past few days these clouds seemed to
have a strange glow to them , even if only he could see it. He was convinced
the hues had not been light refraction , a setting sun,
or his own imagination.
"Any change?" Captain Crane asked, stepping out onto the
still moist deck of his windowed submarine.
Charting the reefs, investigating all the currents, examining
all the old shipwrecks. Nothing out of the ordinary in the Bermuda Triangle
either, and nothing out of the ordinary for the men of Nelson's own
"No. Maybe it is just my imagination...had enough fresh
"Never. But we'll live. Where to now?"Crane asked,
secretly hoping for the assignment home. His crew was weary. He was weary
and it was hard not to show it. These past few months had been irritatingly
That was the problem. Seaview was used to the unordinary,
the special, the secret, the strange. For the past few months it was as
though they were conducting a training mission for raw recruits.
"Oh, I suppose we'll just finish up with that last wreck.
What's her era?"
Restored to his ordinary good humor, Nelson herded Lee back into
his submarine and glanced upward at the sky. Damn! Nelson chided himself.
Lee already thought his concerns about the recent clouds were all in his
head. Maybe he was hallucinating. Nobody else thought the hues were abnormal
for subtropical clouds.
"Pretty recent. Only 1760."Lee jested.
"Look Admiral, why don't I take the flying sub with some special
scanners and take a look?"
While Crane grinned at the complilment, Nelson reflected that
it was probably true. Crane already had the reputation
as the finest sub captain in the world. He also had an excellent
balance of command and camaraderie which made all hands respect his manner
if not his position of authority.
"The flying sub is in no condition for a flight after that
strange power surge. I don't want to risk another loss. Expensive
and uninsurable. And I certainly don't want to risk loosing
you as well. The crew would make me walk the plank!"
"I don't know what you'd be getting into...but if you're willing
to risk it...if Chief Sharkey certifies the thing, then
go ahead, " Nelson said, warily and warmly to Crane. It was an unusual
relationship, for Crane was his employee but also his vessel's captain,
and most of all, his friend.
Sharkey wanted to object but quickly hustled Riley up the ladder
and into the Seaview. Within a minute the flying sub was launched.
Soon Nelson would know if he was on to something or was just crazy
like everybody thought.
"Hey Chief, you sure its okay?" Riley asked nervously
as he packed up his tool kit in the depths of the flying sub.
"What do you think? That I'm gonna report her A-Okay to the
skipper if she's not? C'mon. The skipper's waiting."
" All set chief?"Crane asked, practically descending into
the craft in a single leap from the top hatch.
"Aye Aye sir. Ready for action. Just like me."
"Sorry, not this time chief. I'm taking her out alone."
These sure looked like ordinary clouds to Lee. But true to
his word, he made sure all the scanners were functioning. The sun had almost
set now and the first star of the evening was just about visible. There
was certainly no problem with the flying sub. The Chief had certainly
seen to that, Lee chuckled, but still glad he was alone on this job. The
flying sub was such a wonderful craft. Lee savored the flight with elation.
Just he and FS 1. That didn't happen often.
Just a few more miles and another a fly through or two
and perhaps Nelson's obsession would be over. But as soon as the
thought of Nelson occurred to him, he was uneasy. How many times had the
old man been right? Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and Crane aimed
the flying sub into the larger of the clouds again.
So far, so good. Just an ordinary cloud.
What was that? Lee suddenly started to laugh.
Riely must have left the radio tuned to a popular disk-jockey, for
the flying sub was flooded with music. Hmm. That's odd, he thought as he
noticed the radio was tuned only to the Seaview's own direct contact frequency.
Fiddling with the switches, he commented on it to Nelson.
"That's odd, Lee. Well, perhaps someone left a portable on
No doubt about it, for Riley was known for his love of loud music.
He'd have to have a talk with him when he got back aboard for leaving personal
property lying about, when he found it, that was.
"Pretty powerful portable! It seems to have overlapping stations
and its getting louder. Here, listen."
Suddenly the flying sub was flooded with rainbow lights. At
least they looked like rainbows, all around him. A harmless trick of water
vapor and the sunset, but still, he'd better report this.
" Strange lights, like a bunch of rainbows. All around
me. Can you see them from the scanners?"
Chip, the exec, had already both aimed and fired the magnetic
pull-beam, But it was to no avail. FS 1 was just too far away. The
flying sub was twirling like a top, and soon smashed into the sea out of
control. It remained to be seen if it was still in one piece. And if Crane
"No Lee. Nothing strange."
"They're getting brighter. And the music, its".
A loud crack interrupted the conversation.
"Lee? What was that?...Lee?...Lee?"
"The flying sub's falling sir!" Sharkey exclaimed. He could
see from the flying sub's tracker, that it was swirling downward toward
the sea. Skipper sure had better pull up quick! If he could. If he was
The recovery process dragged on as Seaview seemed to plod to
the area at flank speed. Within an hour the men saw the craft had not shattered
into a pile of wreckage as feared. Doctor Jamison had already arrived
in the observation nose and sweated out the wait, reviewing in his
mind emergency procedures, for the captain had to have been badly hurt,
if he was alive.
The hatch was popped before the craft had been secured in
the berthing area. Nelson was the first to descend into the flying sub,
followed by Jamison.
"He's not?"Jamison asked, as he heard Nelson gasp, all the
while taking in the somewhat charred remains of the interior as he
joined Nelson .
There on the deck, laid out in an awkward angle was not the
captain, but a boy. About eight or nine years old. Somewhat
sunburned, nude, and unconscious amid the ashes of the wreck.
"Where the hell is Crane?"Nelson mused, not quite knowing
what to think.
" I'm not paid to think. Let's get the child to sickbay. Maybe
he can tell us what's going on when he wakes up."Jamison replied,
not answering Nelson's very valid question. Both knew an hour was more
than enough time for someone or something to kidnap Crane and place the
child here as a sort of joke.
"You're sure Chip, you're absolutely sure?"Nelson prodded.
"Yes sir, our instruments had picked up the odd fishing boat
a couple hundred miles away, and nothing under the surface at all except
a few whales.
"Or some crafts disguised as whales."
"But why kidnap Lee?"
"Why do you think?"Nelson replied bitterly, fully knowing
how valuable Crane could be as either a hostage or as another brain to
pluck by enemies of the West, or, perhaps even more likely,
by some alien presence.
"And I don't understand about the boy."Chip mused.
"You think I do?"
The area was searched again and again, all through the night
with infared and ultraviolet scanners, and all through the
morning, to no avail. There was no sign of Crane. The Nelson Institute
had been contacted and even Admiral Jiggs Stark of the Navy had been notified
to be on the lookout for Crane and his kidnappers.
The CIA and the FBI had been notified as well. As for the
child, his fingerprints and his DNA samples were already being
processed. It was simply a matter of time.
Nelson toyed with his breakfast in the observation nose, as
did Angie and Katie, both just having arrived via a special flight to the
nearby islands. Tired and grumpy from the long flight from California,
both had had to bribe an island trawler to bring them to Seaview, a few
hundred miles away. Although uninvited, both secretaries were welcomed
by Morton as a way to cheer up the old man, indeed they could all use a
little cheering up. Even the CIA spies had no info on the kidnapped
"Grab him!"bellowed Jamison, puffing, as he chased the boy
who sprinted forward through the control room with the speed of a gazelle.How
on earth could anybody catch the damn kid! Jamison thought angrily, gliding
a hand over his blackening eye. What a punch!
Nelson rose quickly to join the others , but just as he was
about to try and grab the child, the boy stopped and stared, transfixed
by the transparent windows and the undersea view. Turning slowly, he took
in the all the glittering lights and the periscope.
"Who-who are you?" he asked, cautiously but with undisguised
bravado that made Nelson motion the men to relax.
"This is the submarine Seaview, and I'm Admir..I'm Harry.
What's your name?" Nelson asked gently.
"Why d'you wana know?"the boy responded defiantly.
"Well, I'd like to be able to call you something. So, what's
"I don't have a name." the boy replied , angry,
defiant, glaring, "How'd I get here? Where're you from?"
"Oh the poor boy!"exclaimed Angie, overcome with concern,
" Now, now, there's no need to be afraid."
"I'm not afraid of anything , leggo of me!"
"We're only trying to help, dear."Katie's concern came
to the fore.
"I ain't your dearie either. Leave me alone."
"Chief Sharkey, would you escort the boy to the mess.
See that he gets a good meal and plenty of ice cream. And I don't
want any fuss from you young man."Nelson ordered. "No-one will harm you,
so go along with the chief, that's a good boy."
"Ya don't have to shove!"the boy glared, " And what's it he
called you? Chief? You a cop or something?" the boy brushed the chief's
hand away as he was prodded out of the control room.
Nelson felt suddenly weary, "Chip, I'm going to my quarters,
when the boy's finished eating send him to my cabin".
"Aye Aye sir."
Sharkey had quickly ordered the grub from Cookie. Even so,
the boy had the manners of a pig! He gobbled the food and used his fingers
instead his fork. But he drank the milk ravenously, as if it were something
most kids loved ! He spoke with his mouth full, and wiped his mouth with
his soft white sickbay robe. Many of the crew, out of curiosity popped
by to view this little spitfire with wonder. Where the hell was the kid
from? Why, he even belched noisily without giving it a second thought.
"Thanks,"the boy said, surprising everyone, "So this Harry,
he's your boss right?"
"Yeah, that's right kid, only we call him admiral." Ski replied.
" Admiral? That's sort of like a general, right? What's a
chief?,"the boy motioned to Sharkey, who was nearing the door.
"Somebody who gets the job done. Right men? Okay kid, if you're
done, the admiral wants to see you."Sharkey retorted sharply.
"What's he gonna do, stuff me in a torpedo tube? Look, for
the last time, I don't kow how I got here !"
"He still wants to see you."
"Okay, okay, keep your shirt on. That sure was good
Cookie. I bet you're the most important person aboard!"
"'Bout time somebody noticed it" Cookie replied, pleased,
in spite of the laughter. The kid may be a juvenile delinquent but at least
he had taste, "Hey, Patterson, you don't like my grub?"
"Hu? Oh, its fine cookie, just fine."Patterson replied, deeply
pondering something. Something he didn't like at all.
"The boy sir."Sharkey announced as he opened the cabin door.
"Please, sit down."Nelson commanded, "That will be all Chief-oh,
see to it guest cabin C is prepared."
"Aye Aye sir."
"Well?"the boy asked after Sharkey departed.
"Don't you want me to answer a bunch of questions like all
"I would like a few answers, I'll admit that."Nelson responded,
more like a father than as the law of the ship.
"Like I told your henchmen, I don't know how I got here. Last
thing I remember I was fishing at some pier."
"And you don't have a name."
"That's right.Whether you believe it or not."
"Just where was this pier?"
"I don't remember."
"You've put me in a predicament."
"What the hell's that?"
"That's when..never mind..now do I contact the police or try
to take care of things here?"
"Honest admiral. I really don't have a name... I never have.
And I really don't know the name of the place I was last. Honest."
There was something about the boy's tone that made Nelson
delay contacting the police. Perhaps this poor boy was a pawn of some alien
as Lee just might be.
" All right. We'll leave it for now. But I can't just say
'hey you' if I want to speak to you. Any name you might like? Hmmm.
How about Johnny?
"Kind of sissy don't you think?"
"Umm. Well, I'll give you a little time to think of a name,
"Okay, if you say so. So admiral, this fancy sub
is all your very own?"
" That's right."
"You must have a lot of money."
" A little."
"And your captain's been taken prisoner by somebody
or killed even?"
" So you're kind of stuck not having him around to run
" I think we can handle ourselves pretty well without him".
Nelson replied, irritated, and bitter with himself for the half-truth
"So you could use a hand?... I'd kinda like to earn my keep."
Nelson's hesitation was transparent.
"I'm strong and I learn quick."
" I'll think about it."
For the next hour, Nelson kept trying to glean information
from the boy. Through psychological tactics he managed to bring the subject
back to names and locations. But it was no good. The boy truly seemed
to have no memory of his name nor where he was from. Dismissing him, Nelson
went back to his damaged scanner tapes, useless things that they
were, in the hope of finding out what the hell had happened
to Lee and where this boy came from.
Well, at least the boy was trying to make himself useful, that
was for sure, thought Chief Sharkey. Nobody, not even the admiral had asked
him to yet either. Already today, the kid had peeled a couple of
bags of spuds, washed several dishes, and even beaten Kowalski at poker!
It was the dames that were the problem. Always butting in
everywhere, checking on the kid's whereabouts, if he was clean, if
he was comfortable. It was hard to hold one's tongue toward the admiral's
guests. But the kid sure had no problem! None whatsoever. In fact,
Sharkey hadn't heard such language since boot camp! But it was no good.
The kid sassing back to them made them even more concerned about the 'poor
It was difficult not to like the kid. But It just didn't make
any sense. Who was he anyway? You'd think the FBI could have found something
out by now. It had been nearly a week! But so far it was as if the kid
never existed. No missing kid files, no juvenile delinquent files, nothing.
It was hard to know what the admiral thought. There were all
sorts of theories going around. Foreign midget, spy, amnesiac, alien
from outer space,or Bermuda Triangle victim; the admiral kept mum about
whatever he thought, and allowed the kid pretty much free reign over whatever
he wanted to do, as long as he didn't try to run the ship all by himself.
In fact, Sharkey mused, the admiral and the kid had begun
to develop a real rapport together, and the 'old man' had even gotten into
the habit of checking in on the kid at bed time. Telling him all
sorts of sea tales and the like. Just like somebody's grandpa or
And even Sharkey had to admit, kid was a pretty quick study,
and had shown a real instinct about just how submarines were supposed to
work, once some things were explained to him. Nelson actually encouraged
him and let him read through all the manuals and explained
a bunch of technical stuff whether the kid asked him to or not. Even
Morton had let him observe how some of the consoles in the control room
worked. It wasn't long before Kowalski, Patterson, and Sharkey himself
didn't have to explain much of anything anymore. This kid was fast
becoming a real pro. At just about everything aboard. At least, Sharkey
thought, he hoped it was just that the kid had some kind of
a natural instinct. The kid couldn't really be a midget spy, or some
kind of Martian,could he?
Just as Patterson was securing a routine check of Corridor
A-17, there was the sound of a great explosion. Trying to run practically
sideways toward the compartment as the ship's klaxton rang, he knew this
could be real trouble . And he was right.
The compartment was already spewing steam and sparks,
a sure sign of a possible crack in the hull. As Patterson and everyone
else got there, they knew it was bad.
After having helped two of the three men out of the
flooding compartment, the kid was descending back down into the deluge
to help another man, knocked out and trapped under a vast affair of twisted
metal. It looked hopless and the torrent of water was close to the
point of no return.
"Close the hatch!"screamed the kid, as he still tried to move
the trapped man. Patterson didn't hesitate and was about to descend into
the flooding compartment.
For what seemed like hours, the few minutes following sealing
of the hatch were endured with a heavy silence.
"Get out of here and close the damm hatch I tell you!"the
kid screamed with ultimate authority.
"Close it Pat."Nelson commanded, drenched with as much sweat
as the other fast arriving men.
"Take over chief". Nelson ordered quietly and slowly
walked away from the scene of the crewman and the boy's death.
"So damage control reports that only four compartments are
flooded and we should be able to make it to the nearest port without incident."Nelson
confirmed with Chip Morton.
"Excuse me sir, may I speak to you?"Patterson interrupted
the two in the control room.
"What is it Patterson?"Nelson asked, not really wanting to
speak to anyone.
Suddenly another klaxton rang.
"What is it?"Morton asked Ski at the computer.
"The pressure hatch alarm!"
"The pressure hatch alarm? That's only effective if somebody
falls into it, or ....enters through it!"Morton exclaimed.
"Sir, you don't think.."Patterson asked.
"We're not paid to think, but I sure have a feeling! C'mon,"Morton
commanded, hoping upon hope that what he and everyone else thought could
be true, as they all raced to the pressure hatch compartment.
"Well, no damage that won't wash off."Doctor Jamison concluded
as the boy buttoned up his oversize shirt. "And Kelly will be
fine as well, just a few bruises."
"I still don't understand how he managed to ket
Kelly free and get out of there "Patterson mused.
"He used the water!"Kelly replied, excited. "He aimed some
of the in-rushing water with some wreckage to move the pieces holding
me down! And then he pulled me out of the breech in the hull and buddy
breathed with me all the way outside the sub and back into the pressure
hatch!"Kelly reported, "Must have paid attention to that old Navy manual
we kept in the crews mess, cause I didn't come to till there we were
at the hatch and he finally explained it all to us after we
kept pestering him about it."
"Oh you brave boy!"Angie declared, trying to hug the child,
as Katie gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Hey, knock it off will ya!....Harry, can't you get them to
leave me alone?"
"I thought you liked the distaff side, judging by all
the time you spend looking at Kowalski's magazines."Nelson replied indulgently
at the boy while Kowalski cringed, knowing Nelson's distaste of the publications.
"Duhhh, but these two think I belong in diapers!"
"Angie, Katie, let's treat our crewman like a crewman, shall
we? Come along son, let's go to the observation nose for some
cake and ice cream."
"On one condition,"the boy replied, determined.
"You let me look through the periscope, so how
about it? Can't I really do something a little more useful around
here like everybody else?"
"I don't think I have a choice!"Nelson replied, laughing,
as he escorted the pint sized hero forward.
As Seaview limped toward port she was signaled by a surface
craft flashing a distress signal. To the rescue, despite her own problems,
Seaview made pretty good time, considering. She was not prepared, however,
for the guns, knives, and explosives of her hijackers.
The brigands were very well armed and Nelson acquiesced. There
would be no bloodshed if he could help it, and he was rather curious as
to just what was going on. This could very well be a connection
to the Crane mystery and the boy's.
Able to submerge, Seaview found herself in an undersea cavern.
Once docking was complete, Nelson could see ,via the monitors ,that the
complex was of moderate size,and equipped with the latest electronics.
Soon he may have the answers to his questions.
"Well, Admiral Nelson. Good. I'm glad you were aboard. Just
as I planned. You'll be most valuable."
"And just to whom do I owe this pleasure?"Nelson replied sarcastically,
rubbing his wrists, still sore from the handcuffs of yesterday's
"I am Mr. X."
"Uh-hmm. Sure you are."
"I assure you. I took the name to assure its remembrance."
"And just where are we?"
"Why, Admiral. Surely you know our location."
"Thats not what I meant and you know it."
The knukckles that struck Nelson were hard, as
if imbedded with sharp spikes.
"You must forgive Morris. He takes insults so seriously...
I have placed my office here in a tropical paradise, where
no one expects anything but flying-fish and mosquitoes....and the occasional
unexplained mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle.
"The Bermuda Triangle has existed for a lot longer than you
can take credit for," Nelson replied sarcastically.
"But that's the whole idea, Admiral. Who can say if
a disappearance is a natural phenomenon or the result of ineptitude,
such as yours."
"So you've hijacked other vessels?"Nelson replied, ignoring
the insult. "Don't be ridiculous. Why capture a pleasure boat when I can
earn far more for the Seaview and Admiral Nelson."
"You can't be serious."
"Oh, but I am. Surely, you have enough experience with certain
nations who would value your brain, as well as your submarine.
In fact, I've already arranged your transportation to a nation which has
paid me a great deal of money for your, shall we say, scientific secrets.
Another has paid me almost as much for your fancy submarine."
"And my crew?"
"Monetarily worthless, but useful in mining my undersea caverns
for gold, and Tiva Core elements. And of course the women will be
even more useful."
"Now, now, Admiral. Yes, take him away Morris. Put him in
solitary. I don't want him to communicate with any of his crew just
yet. Let him stew a little. By the way , are all hands accounted for?"
"Everyone on the roster except Crane. We haven't
found him yet. Is he important?"
"Oh no, he's only the captain."Mr X replied sarcastically,
" You've searched everywhere?"
"Crane is missing, and probably dead after a flying sub accident."
Nelson quickly interrupted.
"Is this a trick of yours Nelson? Keep a look out. Take the
submarine to the transfer coordinates."
"Hail Mr. X!"
"Oh, man, my aching back!"Kowalski complained as he whacked
another pickax at the glowing rock, " Hey bub, you sure this stuff ain't
With the addition of a few pieces of special equipment, the sub
was running practically by herself. Clyde had never been on a sub
and was having a wonderful time.
"Get on with your work! All of you. Don't you know anything?
The Tiva Core is harmless. I have no protective clothing on do I? Mr X
has no use for men who don't work. I may shoot anyone I feel is lazy or
"Like to see you try it."Ski replied defiantly, disbeliving
the threat, and was promptly shot in the shoulder for it.
"Insolence is not tolerated either. Take him to Mr. X."
"Hey Morris, look at me! I'm the captain!" exclaimed Cylde,
swirling around with the periscope.
"Knock it off. We're here to do a job, not to have fun. Let's
get this sub to the transfer coordinates before Mr. X decides to add us
to his prisoners. "
"Okay, okay, just how much do get when we give this tub to
"How should I know. I just do as I'm told. Like
Morris was uneasy. There were only five men aboard and he
knew if anything went wrong, he'd be the one marked for shark meat.
Boy ,was he hungry.
"Hey Clyde, go to the back of the ship where they keep
the food and bring me a sandwich or something ."
"Go get it yourself!"
"How would you like a face full of fist? Now move it!"
"Okay, okay."It wasn't easy to argue with Morris, especially
as he was always armed with one of the Z-guns, excruciatingly painful,
and used for insuring obedience.
It took a long time for Clyde to find the galley, and even
longer to make a sandwich, for he kept munching on the makings. As he was
just about to slice the sandwich, he heard a low moan. It seemed to echo
in the empty room. Quickly looking about and out into the corridor, he
decided that valor was not one of his stronger points
and almost sprinted toward the control and the security of Morris.
"I'm telling you, I heard moaning! But there was nobody there!"
Clyde shouldn't have been assigned to this job. What a dunce,
thought Morris, as he got back to the job of sitting in a chair and occasionally
glancing at the flickering lights of the auto-control panel.
Picking up a mike, Morris demanded the others answer, which
they did, pronto.
"But I heard it, honest! Low, echoing, ghost like!...M...Maybe
it was a ghost! Didn't the crew say they couldn't find the body of their
captain? Maybe it's the ghost of Captain Crane!"
"More likely your imagination. Just a bunch
of pipes. Air and all that stuff. Go back and bring me my sandwich!"
"I would have thought you knew better!"Nelson spoke
angrily to the bandaged Kowalski, " Hmmm. And everyone else has been
put to work in the mines?" Nelson commented, examining Kowalski's
"Yes sir. Everybody on the roster. And Miss Angie and Miss
Katie were taken to Mr X's own apartments. Nobody knows what's happening
to them...and ...well sir, nobody knows what's happened to the kid. He
just sort of vanished. Maybe he's one of them."
"I'm afraid it's a distinct possibility. I have a feeling
we're going to have a very hard time getting out of this mess. But not
impossible. Ski...I'm glad they allowed me to see you. I heard Mr. X bragging
about punching you out a bit..but I'm sure you'll be okay."
It was a good sandwich and Morris greedily chomped down on
the next bite.
"Clyde, you idiot!"Morse tried to say, desperate for something
liquid to wash down the burning fire. Grabbing the glass of reconstituted
milk Clyde had brought, Morris took a gulp to soothe his throat.
"Ahh--Ahhh." Clutching his throat, Morris began to gag and
vomit. "What the hell is this stuff?" he tried to say but it only
came out as a voiceless squeak.
"It didn't bother me that way."Clyde said, confused,
and began to examine the sandwich . With a look of fear, he then looked
at the milk and tasted it.
"It didn't taste like this when I drank some of it..."
"Oh, you idiot!"Morris blared the best he could with a voice
like a mouse, but was quickly interrupted by a low, echoing moan.
"I told you! I told you! It's the ghost of Captain Crane!"
"A ghost that eats sandwiches and drinks milk."Morris
"Oooohhhhh. Ooooohhhhh. Whoooo dares to eat my fooood and
drink my milllllkkkk. Whooooo dares to steal my crew and my submarine.
Cursed. Cursed. Cursed they be. Oooohhhh.Oooohhhh."
"Ghost, schmost. Somebody's aboard! Search the ship.
Kill on sight!"fumed Morris, unaware that slightly above him, hidden by
the vent grille, was a boy clutching a half used bottle of Ipecac , super
delux hot sauce, and one of Kowalski's magic shop
concoctions, trying desperately to keep from laughing out loud and droping
Riley's portable voice synthesizer.
"Look, Morris, don't you know about ghosts? They have all
sorts of powers. And.. and..well.. the ghost of Captain Crane is
probably trying to get his ship back."
"When we get back, you're going to a loony bin!
Now, move it!"
"So you see admiral. Your famous submarine will soon belong
to General Ching and his country has been most generous. And you will soon
be allied to one of their friends. Oh, look here. I have a frequency
lock into your shipboard monitors. Why, there's the control room."Mr X
smirked sarcastially. " Morris! Estimate of arrival at the coordinates!"Mr
X boomed across the tied in PA.
"In about 12 hours. That is if I can keep my men
from a mutiny."Morris replied wearily facing the monitor.
"What on earth are you talking about?"
"Clyde and all the others! They're stark raving mad..convinced
the sub is haunted! And haunted by the ghost of captain Crane!"
"There've been strange noises. And I have to admit a few strange
happenings that don't seem to make much sense. Even the controls
aren't working right. I might have to make a dive outside to inspect one
of the panels. Probably just a few things in need of repair. But the men
want me to make sure it's a mechanical problem and not a ghost!"
"Ahh."Nelson sighed satisfactorily.
"Do you have any idea of what's going on?"Mr X asked
"Well, it's quite simple really. Captain's are notorious for
protecting their vessels. I'm sure Crane's ghost is trying to make things
uncomfortable for you."
"You can't be serious!"
"Why, surely you're familiar with sea lore and
the unexplained. Sea ghosts are quite common and Captain Crane
was quite possessive of Seaview in life, perhaps he's even more so in death."
"What the hell happened to you?"Morris bellowed as Clyde entered
the control room, covered in thick greese.
"Yes, I'd be very interested to know if that's a manifestation
of a ghostly presence."Nelson said calmly.
"You..you believe it then?"Clyde asked excitedly as he raced
to the monitor, " I knew it was Crane's ghost. I just knew it!"
"What happened!"Mr X bellowed.
"I was just checking the circuitry room for all the power
flux's we've been having and when I didn't find anything I heard
the moaning again and then laughter and then when I left the room, splat!
This goop all over me and nobody in sight. Just a bunch of ghostly laughter!
It's Crane isn't it! He's upset! We've got to get outa here!"
"Calm down!" Morris slapped Clyde. "Mr X, they're all insane!
All this ghost nonsense! It's just a bunch of maintenance problems
and somebody playing tricks on us, that's all."
"Yeah, but are you sure? We've searched everywhere. Nothing!
It's a ghost!"Clyde retreated from another punch.
"I'll find him, don't you worry. Call Evans to the control
room."Morris said decisively, "I'll find our ghost and then my gallant
crew can look forward to a long rest in a physco ward!"
"Very well, Morris. I'll depend on you to solve the problem."
"Don't be too certain it isn't a ghost. There are a
lot of unexplained mysteries of the sea, ghosts, included." Nelson admonished
With that, Mr X, turned off the monitor and glared at Nelson.
" Ghost or no ghost, your submarine will soon belong to a
nation you've long despised."
Twice now, the attempts at escape had failed. Twice now,
Nelson had been disciplined and was forced into the hard labor as his men
before his designated time of departure.
"Well, sir, it looks pretty bad. They outgun us, so
to speak, and there are too many guards." Chip managed to whisper to the
What he saw wasn't encouraging. Hawthorn was pulling tacks
out of his bare feet just outside the crew's shower room, Baker was
trapped in the head, his rear end stuck to the commode, Dobson was nursing
a broken ankle and covered with fire extinguisher foam, and Morris was
nowhere to be seen.
"I told you no talk!"Mr X shouted as he motioned a guard to
strike Morton and Nelson. "You. Men of the Seaview. I have a
present for you. You get to watch your submarine join another fleet." Mr
X spoke laughing, as he turned on the screen, and patched it into
the Seaview's control room.Clyde was at the periscope.
"Clyde, prepare to transfer the ship to General Ching."
"I--I can't sir. "
"What do you mean you can't?"bellowed Mr. X.
"I-I'm stuck! My hands won't come free and my face is stuck
inside this rubber eye thing! I've called out and called out but nobody
hears me or can't answer! And the kid's jammed all the controls!"
"What kid? Idiot! Mr. Morris. Mr. Morris! Answer!" Mr X bellowed
as he turned the dials to see other areas of the deserted ship.
"Come back here you little monster!" screeched Morris' voice
suddenly , in the high decibels of a voice altered by a helium scuba
tank , as he came into view, trying to chase a boy down a corridor, but
hindered by all the tacks, glue, paint, stink bombs and other instruments
of torment the child had been booby trapping the men with lately.
Almost gleefully, the boy threw another stink bomb at Morris, and was about
to aim some more super glue at him from a pressurized squeeze gun.
To add insult to injury, Morris had been dyed blue by his
own shampoo, all the more visible against his yellow wet suit.
It was difficult for Nelson not to laugh.
"Stop that child!"ordered Mr. X.
It took a while for the monitors to find the child, who finally
reentered the control room and taunted Clyde, still stuck to the periscope,
by placing ice cubes down his shirt collar and into the back of his
"What do you think I'm trying to do?" yelled Morris, tired,
exasperated, and in no mood for conversation.
"You, Nelson, what do you know of this?"Mr. X asked.
" Why, I have absolutely no idea."
"Listen to me child. Listen to me."Mr. X increased his PA
volume to the ship. "I am Mr. X and I will give you all the ice cream you
can eat if you will stop your little game and unjam the controls."
"Oh yeah, so who's gonna make me?" the boy stopped and
replied defiantly, looking at Mr X on the screen, with a smirk
as Morris who slipped on the deck onto his back. "Hoist the
jolly rogger and catch me if you can!" he taunted as he squeezed
some toothpaste onto the monitor and disappeared from sight.
"Your ghost, Admiral is rather expendable. If you don't order
him to stop, I will kill all of your men and General Ching
will have a very short crewman."
Nelson didn't like the odds.
"Okay, pipe me through."
"Uh, Lad? This is Nelson. Can you hear me?"
Some of the remaining men entered the control room, and try as
they might, nothing worked, as they tried dial after dial while trying
to remain upright in the severe angle.
"That you Harry?"the boy answered and tried to focus the badly
"Yes, its me."
"Yes, we're all okay.Do us a favor though, hu? Stop and give
control of the boat back to Mr X's men okay?"
"What? He wants to turn Seaview over to General Ching
to take over the world and make us all a bunch of commies!"
"Order him to obey you Nelson."Mr X commanded.
"I'm afraid I have to order you to do your duty lad. Remember,
all my crewmen do their duty. You remember our little talk about duty,
There was a wait of about five seconds.
" Okay Harry," the boy replied , "But, uh, it'll take
a little time. I've got to get the super-glue solvent and I left it way
back in that room where all the knobs and dials and things are, and
I don't remember just what I did to all the controls, and I
don't know where I left that tech. manual about it."
"You have five minutes."Mr. X boomed with self-centered authority.
"Yeah, yeah, keep your pants on."the boy answered, departing
the control room and sticking out his tongue as Morris was about to grab
"Leave him. Contact Ching."Mr. X commanded.
"I can't seem to get through."Morris responded, soon after,
desperately trying to get the dials and buttons and keys to work.
"Oh for Pete's sake-don't any of you know how to do anything!"Mr
X replied angrily.
There was a sudden jolt and blackout.The red emergency battery
lights cast an earie glow. The klaxton kept on ringing incessantly.
"We're sinking!"Clyde screamed.
"You, Nelson, what's wrong?"
That comment got him a smack across the cheek, but even
Mr X could see Nelson was concerned.
"Sir, the mini-sub's been launched!"Mr. X's bodyguard shouted.
"This is no time to abandon ship!"
"I'm not sure Mr. X but that mini-sub looks like its headed here."Nelson
"So one of my men is a coward."
"Oh, I doubt its a coward. I think its a torpedo."Nelson mused."It's
aimed at us isn't' it? I suggest you take cover."Nelson replied, motioning
to his men, who ducked down behind the rocks as Mr X's men began to scurry
"Look out!" yelled Nelson, causing Mr X and his men to suddenly
duck, giving Nelson and his men a chance to attack and subdue their captors.
It was only a short brawl, but Nelson's men managed to relieve
their guards of weapons and the will to fight as the mini-sub surfaced
in the grotto at great speed. Holding his breath like all the rest, Mr.
X waited for the mini sub to explode as it reached the shore.
"Yo, Harry!" the boy's voice reverberated in the cavern, as
the Seaview suddenly surfaced just behind the mini-sub.
The boy emerged on deck, holding a grenade , a Z-gun, and a strange
looking hand gun against Morris.
"Where should I make him walk the plank matey?"
"How the devil?"mused Mr. X.
"Oh, you'd be surprised how sophisticated ghosts are
now," replied Nelson, , grinning at the boy, who quickly showed Sharkey
"Why its nothing more than that pineapple we tested that new
preservative paint on!"
"But the gun's real isn't it?" asked Morris.
"See for yourself." the boy responded, firing at Mr X with
the Z-gun, and at the main computer console with an electronic ray gun.
. "Ahrrrr." the boy jested in hearty pirate play, "You won't
even get a good price for resale, will you Mr. X? And it looks like
you'll be in the brig for a long long time,ahrrrr ahrrrr, and an
even longer time in the Penn." the boy laughed with pirate jest,
"You want me to blow up the whole place Harry? I sure would like to."
"I-uh, don't think that will be necessary. Chip, relay
all the info to ONI and arrange for the nearest port authority to
take them off our hands".
"Am I correct in assuming the mini-sub is not a torpedo?"Mr
X asked, slowing getting up from the painful attack of his own weapon.
Chip held him at bay with another.
"Whatever makes you think that?"the boy ginned micheviously.
"Oh I wonder indeed."Mr X answered sarcastically.
"Well, laddy, how about a mug of ale?"Nelson asked with a huge smile.
"Ah, Harry, don't I get to make him walk the plank?"
"Not today. Permission to come aboard?"
"Well, that depends."
"Your terms sir?"
"No more cake and ice cream! I'm getting to hate the stuff!"
It was soon revealed that the fake grenade in addition
to the ship's plight had threatened the hijackers with enough fear to
surrender. And the lad had quickly put the ship right. His ploy of
the mini-sub made Nelson chuckle, for he had mentioned the elusive tactic
to the lad when relaying a sea story which the boy had made him retell!
If the ladies had treated the boy as a poor babe before, now
they pampered him like a conquering hero. Nelson couldn't tell which
the boy hated worse!If only Lee could have been here, he would have gotten
quite a kick out of the whole affair. But, of course, if Lee
had been here, the hijackers probably wouln't have gotten aboard in the
.Patterson entered, hesitated, and almost turned to go out again.
It was past midnight when Nelson had finally retired to his
cabin for the night and was looking forward to some sleep. For as much
as he was relieved the boy was okay, Crane was still missing and
he was no further along in his investigation. Sleep had been rather evasive
for the past few days. He was just about to turn out the light, when there
was a knock on the door.
"What is it Pat?"
Nelson pulled the cover up to his chin and pondered. So Nelson's
own nagging thoughts hadn't been quite so dense after all. And if it were
true? What then? But the child had no name..adoption of course...but the
child had the mouth of a canal barge...life on the streets of course. This
was no good. Then the answer came in a flash and Nelson knew what he must
"Sir, I think... I...I know where the skipper is."
"Where?"Nelson, suddenly alert demanded.
"You'll probably think I'm crazy or something. But after all
that's happened, well, I'm positive of it now sir."
"Positive of what?"
"The skipper sir. He's the kid."
"He's what??"Nelson knew Patterson had been under some strain,
but this was ridiculous, even if Nelson himself had toyed with the idea.
"He's the kid. Think about it sir. The way he is. The way
he talks, the way.."
"Crane's vocabulary is not that of a street rat!"
"No sir, but the way he sort of well, just takes command.
The way he looks at us, and ..think about it sir. The hair's the same,
especially when its wet..His coloring too. And the way we found him
in the flying sub, most of all of the fabrics charred
into dust. That's why there was no uniform, why he was naked.
And well, it's him sir. I'm sure of it."
"Have you told anyone of your theory yet?"
"No sir. I thought I'd better tell you first."
"Alright,Patterson. I'll think about it. But--lets keep it just
between ourselves for now okay?"
"You don't believe me do you sir?"
"Let's just say I'm withholding any definite answer just yet.
"Okay sir. "
"Oh, and Patterson, don't change the way you respond to the
boy, treat him just the same as always, okay?"
"Aye aye sir."
It was a beautiful morning, but while the admiral and the ladies
breakfasted in the observation nose, the boy was having a grand time working
on some loose gears in an access hatch. Riley was really pleased
to have someone else crawl in the tight space to do the job for him, and
had been assured by the Chief that the kid had learned well and probably
knew what he was doing.
"This is the admiral. Chief, Chip, come to my cabin right
away will you?" Nelsons voice came over the PA.
Sharkey couldn't help chuckling. The kid had guts all right, sure
hope he didn't have to go to some home or something.
"Take care of the kid Riley."Sharkey barked.
"Take care of yourself!"taunted the boy in the echoing hollow.
"Yes sir?" Sharkey asked as he entered Nelson's cabin. Cmdr
Morton was already there, and Patterson too. What had the crewman done
"Gentlemen. I have here documented proof that confirms
that Captain Crane is not dead, nor even missing."Nelson said.
"That's great!" Sharkey exclaimed, not quite believing his
"Well, where is he?" Chip asked, while Nelson and Patterson
remained rather subdued.
"He's all right isn't he?"Sharkey asked suddenly fearful
that something dreadful had happened to him.
"I also have documentation of the boy's identity."
"Hey, thats terrific. And the captain sir? He's okay isn't
"It's all right here chief." Nelson replied, showing him a
genetic chromosome and DNA code.
"Uh, what's this gobbeldigoop?"
"DNA and chromosome ID's."
"Sir, what.. I don't understand what you're not saying sir,"Chip
said, realizing something was far wrong.
"Chip, Chief... The boy is Lee Crane."
After a moment of stunned silence, Nelson stood, somber.
"Hoo boy."Chip said, finally breathing again.
"You can say that again, Chip," Nelson said quietly, " Patterson
realized it some time ago. Frankly, I thought it was a wild idea,
but these tests proved it. Our problem, gentlemen, is what do we do about
it....send him home to his family to raise all over again, keep him here,
or send him back up in that cloud and hope it changes him back ."
"But that cloud's been gone a long
"That's right Chief, but I'm hoping it will come back."
"If not, it looks like the Crane's might have a wild surprise
this Christmas." Chip said sourly.
"I'm afraid not...I had the Institute try to get in
touch with the Cranes, but when contacted they claimed to have no
son. I'm afraid Lee's whole time-line-space-continuum or whatever its called
now by theorists, may have been completely disrupted."
"What do we do?" Chip asked warily.
"I don't know Chip, I don't know...Chief ..I have a
feeling the cloud was somehow connected to Mr. X's complex..I've got to
do some checking....get the flying sub prepped just in case we need it,
"Aye sir...You got a theory?"
"A small one Chief, a very small one."
"Will you tell him?"Chip asked after Sharkey and Patterson
"That depends on what we may be able to figure out. Chip,
I'm relieved that Lee's alive, but I'm also afraid that we'll
never get him back, and... I truly wonder if I have the
right to rob the present child of a different future....its
like being torn between the devil and the deep blue sea!"
"I'll get a team for you to check the comlex."Chip retreated
to the safety of work, for he was in no mood for a philosophical discussion
that could drag on without any answers whatsoever.
"Thank you Chip."
Nelson had been at it for hours now, and it was nearing midnight.
He'd checked and rechecked his calculations, the chemical and mineral
configurations of the Tiva Core, and even some old worn volumes of unexplained
mysteries for a clue. Any clue as to what had caused the change in Crane
and how to reverse it. He was so deep in thought that he didn't
hear the knock at the door, and was startled when he saw the boy ,
standing in front of him.
"Harry?" the boy asked, brooding.
Both laughed, and Nelson prayed the boy would drop the subject.
"Harry, why is everybody looking at me strange?"
Damn! Somebody must have spilled the beans.Nelson tried to
"What do you mean?"
"Well", said the boy hopping up to sit on the edge of the
desk, "They just do. I can't explain it. It's..it's like they see
me covered in ketchup or something.. I don't like it."
"Well, I'm sure it's nothing lad, stress you know."
"Maybe,...you sure have been busy today.. what'cha doing?
Can I help?"
"Oh, uh, just some old theories about the Bermuda Triangle."Nelson
"Harry?.....you're looking at me funny too. Have I done something
"What? Good grief no lad! I, well, I guess I'm stressed
"You know what?"
" You don't lie very well, do you... C'mon Harry, what's going
on? What's wrong?...You...you're not going to send me away are you?"he
asked, suddenly and visibly afraid.
"Now why on earth would I want to do that? And loose
my terror of the Bermuda Triangle?"
"Harry?... I...I know you and Captain Crane were friends,
like brothers they say...I..I hope you find him. I know I can never
replace him, but....could I be your best friend too?"
The boy grinned happily and Nelson watched as he exited the cabin,
and was increasingly torn in the matter of Lee Crane. And just what
the devil was he going to do about it.
The next few days were far more difficult for the boy than Nelson
realized. For as much as Nelson had admonished the crew to clam up and
treat the child the same, it was impossible. Even Nelson had to admit it
was difficult not to see thier own Crane in everything the child did.
It was exceedingly difficult not to embrace the child with
an affectionate hug, especially after such a heartfelt plea, but objectivity
was imperative just now, so Nelson only allowed himself a smile of acquiescence.
"Now, get to bed."Nelson commanded.
"Ah, Harry, you're getting to be just as bossy as the dames!"
"Okay, okay....uh, Harry?"
Uh-oh, thought Nelson, what now? "Hmmm?"
"Can I go up in the flying sub some time? I already studied
the manual, and practiced in the seats when Sharkey tested her
and let me handle some of the controls when he took her out
"I kind of talked him into it....you're not mad at me are
"I'm not pleased, that's for sure!With either of you. He knows
better and you should too. Damnit lad! You could have been killed!
What if something had gone wrong! What if.."
"Well it's over and done with now, so yell if you like! But
nothing happened and we're both safe and sound...so Harry, how about it?
I did real well, Sharkey said so and I won't be any trouble, and
I'm sure I'll..."
"I'll think about it." Nelson cut him off before he'd be hoodwinked
Damnit, he even looked like Lee! Amazing that only Patterson
had seen it. Nelson couldn't fathom why nobody else had, including himself.
And these Tiva Core experiments weren't proving anything... nothing to
do with the now vanished cloud. It was easier to put off the inevitable
but even Nelson knew he was faced with a great decision, and soon.
"Hey cookie, got any more hash?"the boy asked,trying to be
cheerful, sauntering into the mess, after a particulary messy but exciting
stint working in the machine shop with the chief teaching him all
The silence in the room was almost explosive. Placing his chart
on the plot table, Nelson paused, and turned to face the boy. It was Lee's
eyes that bore into him, not the child's. It was now or never.
"Nope, sorry. How about some spaghetti?"
"Figures."Riley whispered, smirking. His smirk didn't last,
though, because the boy had gone stiff.
"Okay, okay I've had enough!" the boy turned, angry,
" Will somebody please tell me what's going on?"
"Huh?"asked Riley trying to cover up any knowledge,
"Everyone hates Cookie's spaghetti."
"That's not what you ment and you know it. You, Pat,
Ski, everyone, even you chief; you all whisper about me behind by
back and look at me funny. Look, if I've done anything wrong.."
"Hey kid, what gives?"Sharkey interrupted, " You're doing
just fine, just fine. And Riley here's just a connoisseur of good food,
The boy was silent. Too silent. And angry. With a brooding
glare that bore into the men, he exited, with a pouting, determined air.
"You idiot!"Sharkey hissed, "You want him to find
out? You know what the boss said!"
"I'm sorry Chief, it's just that as the captain, he hated
Cookie's spaghetti with a passion."
"Yeah, but keep your observations to yourself! Did 'ja see
the look on his face? Man, it's like the skipper just
chewed us out. I wonder what he's up to?"
In those two seconds of revelation, the boy had stood, unseen,
just outside the mess, and sighed dejectedly. With a deep breath of determination,
he went to confront Admiral Nelson.
"Is it true?"the boy asked, entering the control room.
"Hu-what? Is what true?"Nelson asked, engrossed in a chart,
and not realizing the gravity of the situation.
"Am I Lee Crane?"the boy asked in a deathly quiet.
"Yes." Nelson said quietly, waiting for some emotional outburst
from the boy. None came. He simply frowned, turned, and departed. "Chip,
take over. I'll be in my cabin."Nelson commanded, as he turned to follow
the child and take him in tow to the destination of truth.
"So, when we retrieved you from the flying sub, we had no
idea you were actually Crane. Your clothing had been disintegrated
just like most of all the other fabrics inside, and you yourself had no
memory of being Crane. I...I'm sorry we didn't tell you sooner, but quite
frankly , I didn't know what to do."Nelson concluded.
Thompson knew what that ment. He couldn't count how many
times Seaview had been called on for all sorts of government assignments,
including helping out NASA. "I'll put the request through.
Care to fill me in on the details?"
"You, not knowing what to do?"the boy grinned with humor,
"So, I get adopted and end up as captain of the Seaview...not bad
for a street rat...What are they like, the Cranes?"
"Uh-oh, okay Harry, spill the beans. We might as well
cook 'em all."
"When I contacted the Cranes, they said they had no son...I
think your time line was disrupted as well...that's a theory all about.."
"Okay Harry, I get it. I've got to live my whole life over,
cause my future is wiped out, right?"
"Uh, that's about the gist of it."Nelson was relieved the
child was taking it all so calmly.But he did seem to be brooding about
"If we could find that cloud again, maybe
I could take the flying sub up into it and it would zap me back."
"A possibility," Nelson complied, " but a remote one. We don't
even know what happened the first time, and the cloud's gone...I even checked
to see if it was related to the Tiva Core, but nothing."
"So I'm stuck."
"It appears so."
"Well, Harry,...looks like you have a kid brother or something."
Both laughed quietly.
"Wait a minute!" the boy exclaimed suddenly, " Maybe we could
ask the space shuttle to take a look for the cloud!"enthusiastically.
"They've got all sorts of fancy probes and scanners and things..if
they find it we can try!"
"Lee...I....It could be fatal."
"And it could work too! C'mon Harry. Let's contact NASA!"the
boy exclaimed, dragging Nelson away from his desk, and almost running toward
the control room.
"Admiral, are you out of your mind?"General Thompson
"Call it a return favor."
"Just tell them it'll help in our Bermuda Triangle exploration."
"I don't see why you don't just take your fancy
flying sub up into orbit and do it yourself!"he joked.
"Mmm, I've thought about making her space-worthy, but I'm
afraid she's not quite up to the shuttle's capabilities just jet."
"Okay Harry. Be sure you relay the all the special scientific
details you've got so it won't take up all their time?"
"Done. Thanks, Bill."
"Anytime Nelson, and Harry?"
"Don't call us, we'll call you."
"Very funny. Nelson out." Nelson chuckled. He was even getting
to think the boy's idea was a good one. But he was also nagged by the danger.
Was it right? Was it the thing to do? Even if the boy's enthusiasm was
By now, everyone aboard knew that the boy knew and was planning
to get himself changed back into the Lee Crane they remembered. But it
was still hard to know quite how to treat him. He was
still cheerful and sometimes mischievous, but the more the admiral
tried to warn him of the possible dangers, the more determined he was to
take the risk. If they ever could find the damn cloud that is.
Nelson was soon ready to call it quits as NASA had found
nothing after an extensive search. Still, Nelson was somewhat relieved,
for the risk could have been very real. He headed to the observation
nose to tell him.
But he needn't have bothered. Morton had already been informed
by the General of a no show, and had told the boy. Lee's dissapointment
was etched in his face like granite, as he slowly climbed the spiral staircase
up and away.
"What do we do now?"Morton asked.
"What can we do? Set a course for home."
"If it's any consolation, well, perhaps it was ment to happen."
"It's just that..well.. things have happened to Lee
that have..well..things just happen to him and he always manages to pull
through...he will this time too...even if he has to grow up again."
"I never knew you were a philosopher."
"Neither did I sir, but this whole thing's made us all think
"Mmm. Chip, NASA is absolutely sure?"
"Yes. Absolutely. They used every device known to the shuttle.
And the weather sattelites to boot. Nothing else up there but communications
satellites and space junk."
"Space junk? I thought all those antiques had decayed their
orbits and burnt up in re-entry."
"Evidently not. In fact, one of them, the H-7 almost wrecked
the space station about a month ago."
"Of course!"Nelson banged his fist to his head, a sure sign
of something significant, if Chip read him right.
"Sparks, get NASA back for me."
"The H-7, Chip. It was used for charting atmospheric
gasses! Gasses! Some gasses are invisible! But they do have spectrum
signatures! Let's see if NASA can reengage the old rust bucket to
do a little special scanning for us. That cloud might have just been
visible due to a quirk of nature or something. "
"But if it's invisible, how.."
"Certain gasses fall into visible and invisible spectrums.
The H-7 used special equipment to filter through the spectrums...like ultraviolet...and
Z-10, the list is endless. You remember all those new colors that were
discovered years ago by Dr. Xavier? He used a special element to
reveal the spectrum and would have become a millionaire if it hadn't
been synthesized and...Oh I'm so stupid!!!"
"Dr. Xavier!--Don't you see? Mr. X? Special ore? The Tiva
Core? Chip, we may have had the answer right in front of our noses! Get
the chief up here, we're going to engage in a little experiment with NASA,
the Tiva Core, and some space junk!"
It was a wild gas chase, as NASA called it, but they complied,
and soon the old satellite was emitting information. Really quite remarkable
for an object with hardly any more power than a flashlight battery.
But as it's solar wings were aimed toward the sun, it's power increased
and soon it relayed everything it saw for the entire globe.
As for the Tiva Core mine, it seemed to emit nothing
unusual. Was it just a crazy idea after all. This was just a hunch after
Wait, what was that? With increased magnification,
there it was. A great cloud, just like the one Lee had flown into. Ordinary.
But with all the electron particle characteristics the original scanner
tapes had recorded. But now visible to an antiquated satellite. Bingo.
But there was a problem. It was too damn high. It was just about suborbital.
Nelson had called a conference of top scientists about his
little problem, and had had no help. There was absolutely no way the flying
sub could survive even entering into that altitude,
let alone be piloted by a child all by himself. Wouldn't even automatic
guidance be blown, and the craft crumble into smithereens, and turn
into a fireball in re-entry?
Nelson had to agree. Though the flying sub had been repaired,
she was not a spaceship, and the boy would certainly have to
agree that he couldn't do it alone. But what if Nelson went along.?
Good grief, he'd designed the flying sub! So what if he might
be vaporized, maybe even changed, but oh how he wanted to risk it. For
the boy's sake. For Lee's.
But there was no choice, none at all. The president had gotten
wind of the situation and made it quite clear that nobody was to try such
a cockamamie stunt. Nelson was just too valuable to risk, and as for the
boy, well, he'd just have to get used to the idea of being
As Nelson acquiesced and ordered the course for home, he noticed
the silence. What could he say, what could he do to ease everyone's gloom.
Suddenly, alarm bells rang out and the sliding division doors
of the control room shut tight. What was going on?
"Sir! Somebody's stealing the flying sub!"Patterson yelled.
The flying sub was behaving remarkably like a spacecraft
according to the trackers, and after what seemed like an eternity,
nearing its destination. Suddenly the control board went blank.
"She won't answer! Even the berthing doors aren't responding.
It's launching sir!"
Grabbing the mike and turning on the monitor, Nelson saw the
boy at her controls, locking in the special coordinates NASA had relayed.
"Lee! Stop that! Get back in here!"Nelson ordered.
"This is no game! Abort the launch and get back here at once!"
"I don't belong here...not like this...sorry Harry."
"You could be killed!"
"Why? I've got all the NASA imput in her computers and I've
stolen all your notes and entered your own test figures in
it too. There's no reason why it shouldn't work!"
"But she could crack up like an egg or explode if ...listen
to me..come back and I'll go up with you. I'll pilot her."
"I'd like to Harry. But if it doesn't work, I'd rather
nobody bites the dust but me."
"Sorry Harry, sometimes a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta
do...see ya in the future."Lee said, and took the radio and monitor off
line, punched the correct buttons and the flying sub ascended into the
"What happened?"Angie screamed.
C'mon Lee, c'mon. Nelson prayed, as the flying sub entered the
cloud. The wait was endless.
"The auto-control is down." Nelson replied in anguish. Try
as he might, he could not reestablish radio contact.
"Admiral Nelson, what the hell is going on!" General Thompson
boomed on a monitor. " Your damn flying sub just entered the stratosphere!
NASA's going bonkers. I've got them on my other line..what....what?"he
yelled into the other phone. "The cloud's moved!"the general gasped,trying
to maintain his composure with both NASA and with Nelson.
"We've lost all contact! What's happening?"Nelson pleaded.
"Flying sub's just about there.."
"Admiral, auto's came back on!"Patterson shouted.
"Nelson,...I... I'm sorry , it looks like your flying sub
is out of control...there was a strange light, sort of an explosion, wait...it's
eased a bit....keep your fingers crossed...maybe she won't burn up after
all...relaying approximate coordinates for splash down. Want us to give
you a hand?"
It was not a long wait. In fact, descent and splash
down looked better than textbook, and right in the same area as Seaview.
Could the autocontrols really have worked? Seaview sped to the scene and
retrieved the craft. There was almost a de-j'vu feeling for the entire
crew as it was berthed by a grapling hook and the admiral and doctor descended
before it was secured.
Some of the lights were blinking amid the charred remnants.
Almost like last time. Had it worked? Nelson held his breath
as he entered the scene. There, on the deck, was a man. Badly sunburnt,
clothing reduced to ashes. He moaned lightly as he turned and tried to
"Ohh. What happened? I feel like I've been in the ring with
"Last thing you remember!"Nelson commanded as he knelt beside
"Last thing you remember!"Nelson commanded.
"Are you all right?" Crane asked, " And what happened to my
"Tell me what is the last thing you remember,!"Nelson glared.
"You. Asking me to tell you the last thing I remember."Lee
"Humor me!"Nelson demanded firmly, resisting the urge to punch
Lee in the face, but inwardly grateful for Lee's sarcastic irritation.
Waiting for Lee's answer was agonizing. Would he be an adult or a child
in a man's body? There were so many possibilities. Finally Lee sighed and
spoke in submission to the order.
"I was checking out that weird cloud with the scanners, the
radio went strange, there were a bunch of rainbows inside and out and then..uh..I..I.don't
remember.....What the hell's happened?"
"He'll live, but he's going to make a quick trip to sickbay
just the same. Here Captain. Put this on."Doc ordered, handing Lee a thick
"Oooh, that hurts a bit. I feel like I made a visit to the
far side of the sun."
"The burns aren't serious, but I have some salve that
will help the irritation." Doctor Jamison assured him.
"I guess that cloud of yours was for real Admiral."
"You're not kidding Lee, you're not kidding."
"Is there something you're not telling me?"
"It's a long story. I'll tell you later. You just get to sickbay.
Oh, and behave yourself. Angie and Katie are aboard."
"At the same time??... Hoo boy. I think I'm in trouble."
" Don't tell me you've been toying with their affections at
the same time, Lee?."
"Okay, I won't tell you."
The three men laughed with relief as they helped Captain
Crane up into his beloved Seaview. As they were about to help him
to sickbay, Angie and Katie ran toward him and tried to embrace him at
the same time.
"Whoa! To what do I owe this pleasure..this double pleasure?"
"Ladies, lets let our captain get to sickbay please. There
will be time for...conversations later." Nelson ordered, as the two women
kept casting possessive glares at each other as they tried
to help their beloved Lee to sickbay. Hoo boy, indeed, Nelson
thought, Lee's in for it now.
After Crane had been released from sickbay to his cabin,
he and Nelson spoke long into the evening. All about Lee's
difficult childhood as an abandoned infant, and his life on the streets.
"So you kept running away?"
It was difficult to know what to say. It was evident that Lee
had been hurt very badly by his second abandonment. How on earth
could anyone not be proud of Crane.
"I guess I figured I could do better on my own."
"The orphan homes and foster care were that bad?"
"Let's just say there were some experiences
I'd rather not remember."
"Oh, I almost forgot,"Nelson quickly changed the subject,
" I'm not at all sure that the time-line-continuum wasn't damaged.
When I tried to contact your parents after we got you back,
they still claimed they had no son and...what is it Lee?"
"Pop sort of disowned me a long time ago. So he claims
he never had a son. It's a long story. "
"But you were adopted?"
"Officially, I still am."
" I think I'm getting a headache...You want to tell me about
it?"Nelson asked gently, seeing Lee's pain.
"Am I that transparent?"
" It might do you good...and it would certainly ease my confusion."
Both men laughed. Lee settled down into his pillows and began
to tell Nelson all bout how he'd adopted the Cranes. How he'd picked Chief
Gionini Crane's pocket, been caught, whacked on the rump, hauled aboard
his supply ship, the SS Lee, fed, cleaned up, and turned into an unofficial
"I had a wonderful time. For the first time in my life, I
felt as though I belonged somewhere, with someone. He liked me for
myself, not for what I did or didn't do. And then one day they had to go...but
without telling me, they'd contacted the state, and I was going to be sent
back...to the very place I'd run away from. Onri's."
"The reform school?"
"The reform school."
"You say that with hatred in your heart."
"You might say so."
"Was it that bad Lee?" Nelson asked gently.
"Let's just say its a place I didn't want to go back to...and
the men of the Lee knew it....they risked their careers for me...they pulled
out ahead of time, with me aboard, evading direct orders."
"As Chip would say, Hoo boy."
"Well, they were all going to be court martialed for
evasion, busting orders, mutiny even. But they risked it..everyone of them...for
"They were all arrested. I was going to be sent back,
but I managed to sneak into the Court Martial. I made them listen to me.
To put a long story short, all the charges were dropped and just as I was
about to be led away, Pop stood up and said, "Can I have him?"Just like
that. Well, the state had a hissy fit, but one of the officer's asked if
the state didn't feel members of the Armed Forces made good parents? Well,
with that sort of blackmail I became, child, male, Crane. The
state was going to call me John for the John Doe I'd been known as, but
Pop said I should choose my own name. ..What a wonderful thing, choosing
one's own name. It was easy."
"I don't see how that ...wait a minute. Lee...you named yourself
after the boat?"
"No... The spirit of the men of the boat, who risked
it all for me....and that's how I became Lee Crane."
"Quite a tale...but"
"But why would Pop disown me later on?... Well, he figured
I betrayed him. I'd gotten accepted to the Naval Academy. I tried
to explain to him. I knew the position of Chief was the most important
aboard any boat." Crane said earnestly, "But I wanted to be
the kind of officer he'd always lacked. Somebody in on the decisions, yes,
but somebody whose first duty was to his crew, not himself. But Pop
couldn't see it, and figured it was a slap in the face. He told me
if I went through with my plans, he'd never speak to me again...
but sometimes a man's got to do what a man's got to do. What's hard,
Admiral, is that as much as he hates me now, I'll never forget what he
did for me, and how much I love him... And Mom...well, she had it pretty
rough. Caught in the middle. She even got a Post Office Box, but he got
so upset when he found out about it , and made life so miserable for her,
that I only tried to see her or get a letter to her through her doctor.
After a while, I just had to stop. It was all just too painful.
For her. For me. And I suppose, for him."
"Oh, Lee. I'm so sorry. I had no idea...but...surely, surely
he'd be proud of you now..all your decorations...your record...your
"Nope. Oh, he knows all about me. He made sure
of that. He gets regular reports from the gossip columnists and the
"But that means.."
"You don't understand. ... He uses the information to, well,
make snide comments if I'm brought up in conversations. He
hates my guts, admiral, he always will."
"Well, its his loss Lee."Nelson said gently. " Did the girls
give you any trouble?"he asked, glad to change the subject.
"Only a couple of black eyes."Lee joked.
"You look fine to me."
"Ahh, but these are invisible. Every time they look
at me...at least they're still friends with each other. I hope I'm still
a friend too, but I'm afraid its no more moonlight walks on the beach ,
or dinner at Chez Louis."Lee joked softly.
"Well, I'd better let you get a little rest. Goodnight Lee."
"Goodnight admiral, oh, I hope you got all the booby traps
"Very doubtful. After all, the terror of the Bermuda
Triangle was rather ingenious, just like Seaview's skipper, so there may
still be a few we've yet to discover."
"Oh go on, get out of here." Lee grinned, embarrassed
by the praise, "Oh, wait a minute, Admir..Harry? I..I just wanted to say
that... I'm glad you're my friend."
"Enemy."Nelson grinned, in remembrance of an undercover operation
of long ago.
"Partner."Lee joined in.
"Rival"Nelson continued, enjoying this camaraderie.
"Big brother."Lee continued, meaning it.
"Blood brother."Nelson concluded.
"You still want to bash my head in?"Lee asked with a great
smile, remembering the incident in Greece when both had to assume
psudo-identities, and Nelson had used all of these terms to describe their
" Oh, just about every day! Now, get some rest."Nelson
chuckled, glad that the bitter memories Lee had just revealed had
not soured his homecoming.
As Nelson later glanced through all the new information the
Institute had sent, he came across the records of the SS Lee. It was far
worse than he had even suspected. The abuse Lee had endured in the boys
home of Onri was part of a larger state wide syndicate of
crime, including theft, gambling, prostitution, and racketering. No wonder
he'd bailed out of it and the men of the SS Lee had helped
him to stay out of it.
What was amazing was that Lee had turned out to be a law abiding
citizen at all. Chalk up some credit to Chief Crane, his wife, and the
At least Lee had had a glimpse of family. At least he
still had Seaview. At least he still had friends. At least he still had
"Sir, I knocked, but you didn't hear me." Chief Sharkey entered
with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, "The dames..the ladies... thought
you might like a little nourishment....sir?"
Uh-oh, something was on Sharkey's mind.
"Yes Chief ?"
As Sharkey visibly relaxed, even though embarrassed by Nelson's
use of his given name, Nelson smiled to himself. Everything
was going to be just fine now. Everything was already back to normal .
Tomorrow was going to be an ordinary day for Seaview. Again.
"Will the skipper be okay now sir, I mean, well, is he himself
again...I mean his old self..I mean.."
"He's just fine Francis, just fine."